Newmarket-on-Fergus 2-9 Sixmilebridge 0-13
Newmarket-om-Fergus were crowned Clare Champion cup champions for the 24th time at Clonlara on Saturday when they defeated their neighbours and arch rivals Sixmilebridge who were chasing the senior championship and league double.
In a game in which the sides were level on seven occasions, Newmarket finished strongly, scoring the last three points of the game, to claim the title, their first since 2013 when they completed three in a row. As was the case when the sides met in the championship semi-final back at the end of September, there was little between the sides throughout and, for much of this contest, extra time looked likely.
Newmarket’s strong finish, however, ensured that county board chairman Joe Cooney would be handing the cup over to Colin Ryan. Before making the presentation the O’Callaghans Mills man paid a warm tribute to the Clare Champion for their sponsorship of the senior leagues and Ryan also thanked the sponsors noting that their imput ensured keen competition amongst the clubs for the title
The game threatened to boil over on a couple of occasions but, thankfully, order was quickly restored and players battled for possession as if their very lives depended on winning it.
Newmarket took an early lead with team captain Colin Ryan converting two frees inside the first five minutes. Sixmilebridge then replied with three in a row through Brian Corry and Jamie Shanahan (2) before Ryan levelled the tie for the second time after good work by Colin Guilfoyle.
Teenager Guilfoyle struck for the game’s first goal in the seventeenth minute when he drilled the ball past Derek Fahy after good work by Mike McInerney. The score put his side four points clear but Sixmilebridge responded strongly and they landed the next five points four from freetaker Shanahan and one from the evergreen Niall Gilligan an they held a one point lead as the game went into ‘injury time’ at the end of the half. Colin Ryan had the final score of the half to leave the score at 0-8 to 1-5 at the break.
On the resumption Sixmilebridge grabbed the initiative and they landed points from Shane Golden, Cathal Lynch and Shanahan to open a three point lead with just five minutes played. Two minutes later they were level again after Colin Ryan finished a Colin Guilfoyle cross to the net.
Calls for a ‘square ball’ from Sixmilebridge were followed moments later by calls for a penalty but neither were successful. As things hotted up a number of names went into referee Ger Hoey’s book before Newmarket went back in front through their captain when he converted a free at the turn of the final quarter. Jamie Shanahan responded to level matters again before putting the championship winners ahead with five minutes to go. Now it was Newmarket’s turn to respond and this they did with Mike McInerney pointing to level the game for the final time. Two minutes from the end of normal time Colin Ryan had the blues back in front and in the first of three minutes of ‘added time’ the skipper converted a ’65 which proved to be the final score of the game.
Newmarket; Ronan McCormack; Shane Kelleher, James McInerney, Liam O’Connor; Shane O’Brien senior, Enda Barrett, Evan Keogh; Eoin Hayes, Sean O’Connor; Colin Guilfoyle (1-0), Colin Ryan (1-8, 0-7 frees, 0-1 ’64), Mike McInerney (0-1); Ronan Goode, Stephen Kelly, Cathal Hayes;
Sub;; Eoin O’Brien for C. Hayes(40 minutes)
Sixmilebridge; Derek Fahy; Evan McInerney, Paidi Fitzpatrick, Noel Purcell; Aidan Quilligan, Seadna Morey, Caimin Morey; Jamie Shanahan (0-10, all frees), Conor Deasy; Cathal Malone, Niall Gilligan (0-1), Cathal Lynch (0-1); Brian Corry (0-1), Shane Golden (0-1), Alan Mulready;
Subs; Alex Morey for Mulready (46 minutes) Brian Carey for Lynch (55 minutes)
Referee; Ger Hoey, Killanena
By Seamus Hayes